On Nov. 9, SeaWorld announced an end to orca whale shows at the San Diego location, following the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act, introduced by California Rep. Adam Schiff on Nov. 6, which plans to phase out captive orca whales within the next 50 years. Schiff says that he will not stop after this legislation, and he asks SeaWorld to end their orca breeding program.
“I don’t really care about SeaWorld,” said freshman Luke Williams, “but I think all conservation efforts are important and should be promoted.”
SeaWorld has faced harsh criticism over the treatment of its orca whales and other marine mammals over the years, starting with the premiere of Blackfish, a documentary showing the practice of keeping orcas in captivity and publicizing the story of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer who was drowned by the whale Tilikum in February of 2010.
Blackfish is based on the investigations by reporter Tim Zimmermann, titled The Killer in the Pool and Blood in the Water, both based around the deaths of SeaWorld’s trainers.
Other corporations have their own ideas for the preservation and protection of orca whales. Founder and CEO of Munchkin Inc., Stephen Dunn, plans to donate $1 million to an orca ocean sanctuary project and asked SeaWorld to release Tilikum into the ocean sanctuary upon its completion. The project will provide released captive or injured orcas a safe, enclosed location while also providing these whales with a natural ocean habitat. As of now, Tilikum is being kept in a small tank for breeding with no plans of being released.
“I believe that ending orca shows would be a big step forward for the rights of intelligent animals that deserve better treatment than being caged up in a detrimental environment,” said freshman Ian Fluke. “However, whales have large migratory patterns. Off-shore sanctuaries are a step in the right direction, but introducing captive whales into natural pods is the best option.”
Even after SeaWorld’s announcement to end theatrical whale shows in its San Diego location, conservationists say that its not enough. They seek to completely end whale captivity completely.
Jeff Williams, [email protected], is a freshman Computer information Science major